Boss battles are an iconic video game archetype, as synonymous with gaming as a chase scene in slasher movie. Woven deeply into its DNA, boss battles have featured in video games since the earliest days of arcade machines, and something we still expect to see in contemporary titles. A formula has endured for decades that players inherently understand and accept in principle; after beating a level you face off with some of the hardest video game bosses.

Boss battles have both defined and ruined games gone by. Over the years, their execution has proved a veritable art form that some developers absolutely excel at and others fail hopelessly to master. The key to success is a challenging but fair fight, one that requires strategy, skill and patience without frustrating too much. When you really think about it, boss battles are gameplay in its purest form.

Of course, not all of the hardest video game bosses are created equal, with some presenting such a ferocious challenge that they have become famous in gaming legend. Indeed, whether by deliberate intention or poor game design, certain boss battles spike a games difficulty in such a fashion that they have gamers tearing hair out, screaming into pillows and throwing controllers around the room in frustration. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 meanest, toughest and hardest video game bosses in video gaming history. You have been warned.

  1. Yellow Devil – Mega Man

Yellow Devil in Mega Man

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The Mega Man series has long been reputed for its brutal difficulty thanks to its tricky platforming sequences and notoriously sporadic enemy movement. Above all, Mega Man has some infamous boss battles that demand strategy and timing, as well as lightning fast reactions and a great deal of patience to beat.

The Mega Man series has a smorgasbord of iconic robots that must be defeated at the close of each level, and we really could have included several on this list, but the first encounter with the notorious Yellow Devil stands head and shoulders above the rest.

The original Mega Man is significantly harder than its more popular sequel throughout, but its Yellow Devil boss battle spikes difficulty way above even its most challenging previous moments. The encounter is mid-way through Wiley’s castle, the final section of the game. Yellow Devil’s attacks aren’t too difficult to avoid, but he continually divides himself into dozens of square parts that transport him from one side of the screen to the other. Despite their generic pattern, the blocks move quickly and are excruciatingly difficult to avoid. This is platforming in its most pure form, requiring careful study of the enemy’s pattern, nerves of steel and the reactions of a rattlesnake.

  1. Bison – Street Fighter Alpha 3

Bison from Street Fighter Alpha 3

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Bison has to be one of the most recognizable characters in video games, let alone the Street Fighter series. Ryu’s arch nemesis, M. Bison is a crazed military dictator with an iron jaw and ludicrously wide shoulders, who likes to lead from the front rather than rely on his henchman. He’s a formidable boss in any of the iteration of Street Fighter, but in Alpha 3 he’s arguably the series toughest opponent.

In Street Fighter Alpha 3, M. Bison has a devastating move in his repertoire called “Final Psycho Crusher” in which a deadly storm of unavoidable blue flames deals enormous damage to his opponents. It’s a savage move, but to make things even more difficult, players only have one chance to beat him. There are no continues here; lose and you will be forced to start the entire game from the beginning.

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